Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Kemena Bridge and Timber Processing Zone

The Kemena Bridge was officially opened for use on 13 December, 1983.
In the picture above is seen the Batang Kemena or Kemena River and towards the background of the picture is the Bintulu hinterland and interior areas.  The first and second phase of the Kemena Industrial Estate is situated on the right of the riverbank (moving downstream) and later phases were located at the opposite side (left side of the riverbank, moving downstream)
Picture credits : Investment Opportunities in Timber, Bintulu, Sarawak, BDA brochure.
 The appeal of Bintulu as a centrally located new growth centre for Sarawak depended on its land as well as off-shore resources.  The first economic boom (1979 - 1983)  saw the birth of new industries for the once sleepy Bintulu.  One of the projects that helped thrust Bintulu into the new industrial age was the the large-scale timber-based manufacturing centre situated on both sides of the Kemena Bridge.  This timber processing zone was called the Kemena Industrial Estate (KIE) by its developer, Bintulu Development Authority (BDA).  The bridge was critical to connect Bintulu to the capital city Kuching, some 600 kilometers away.  With the completion of the bridge in 1983, timber resources from other parts of Bintulu especially from the Tatau river system were able to be sent by land directly to the Kemena Industrial Estate.  The KIE success depended on the development of the Bintulu Deepwater Port at Tanjung Kidurong, the Kemena Bridge and a trunk road to connect the KIE to the exporting terminal at Tanjung Kidurong.  The early investors to the KIE started with sawn timber, plywood and veneer manufacturing activities for export.
The Kemena Bridge and Kemena Industrial Estate as seen in 1990.
Picture credits : An Invitation to Invest in Bintulu (2nd Ed.),BDA.
 The setting up of the Kemena Indusrtial Estate was prompted by Bintulu's factor endowments.  The Bintulu hinterland is covered with 3.4 million hectares of forested land.  The rich interior areas of the Batang Kemena or the Kemena River and the Tatau River systems are densely inventorised of commercially valuable tropical hardwood species.  In 1984 for instance the Bintulu region produced 2.8 million cubic meters of logs or 25% of Sarawak's total production.  Besides its vast forest reserves, the KIE is served by the Batang Kemena which is the chief means of transporting the cut logs or lumber from the upriver or deep interior areas to the processing zone.  Bintulu was also endowed with cheap and adequate treated water supply (9.2 million litres per day) to meet the industrial processing needs at the KIE.  This timber processing zone was and is still kept busy by the successive economic booms of Bintulu as new uses of timber with new technology were introduced like medium density fibreboard.
The Kemena Bridge and surrounding areas in late 1980's